Sweden and Helan Går

Sweden’s most popular drinking song!

Spring is here and summer is soon upon us! And that means we will soon be having birthdays, weddings, and summer parties. And there are two things you can always count on at these events: alcohol and snapsvisor!

Snapsvisor are drinking songs, especially for when you are drinking snaps, or schnapps. While there are many, the most popular is Helan Går, which roughly translates to “the whole shot goes down.” It is pretty simple and to the point, and is probably better known than the Swedish national anthem.

And here is how it goes:

The Swedish drinking song (Helan Går)

Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej
Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lej
Och den som inte helan tar
Han heller inte halvan får
Helan gååååååååår
[Drink]
Sjung hopp faderallan lej

Skååål!

(Tip: Usually two verses are sung, getting progressively faster)

And now in English

The whole one goes down
Sing “hup fol-de-rol la la la la”
The whole one goes down
Sing “hup fol-de-rol la la”
And he who doesn’t take the whole
Doesn’t get the half one either
The whole one goes down
[Drink]
Sing “hup fol-de-rol la la”

Cheeeers!

I love that the drinking rules are explicitly stated within the song – if you don’t finish your shot, you won’t get any more. Having the rules fully outlined and ensuring that everyone follows them feels very Swedish to me!

A few years ago I was at a Swedish-American wedding for my friends Rebecka and Bryan (you met Rebecka here!) and there was, of course, many rounds of Helan Går sung. But since there were so many Americans at the wedding, the Toastmadames (Toast Ladies) printed out the lyrics with English words that sound similar to the Swedish words so everyone could sing along. It was such a brilliant idea!

Here is how you would sing Helan Går in English words:

Hell and gore
Chung hop father Allan, Allan ley
Hell and gore
Chung hop father Allan, Allan ley
On handsome in the hell and tar
Hell are in the half and four
Hell and gooooore
[Drink]

Chung hop father Allan, Allan ley

Skull!

Helan Går is a song you will definitely hear while living in Sweden! Another is Ja Må Du Leva, but more on that later!

Want to hear Helan Går in action? Listen to this.

Fun Facts:

  • Interested in some other snapsvisor? Find more here.
  • The Swedish national anthem is Du Gamla, Du Fria (Thou Ancient, Thou Free). Listen to it here. Read about it here.
  • Snaps are a shot of aquavit, a traditional Nordic alcohol.

Tess’ Tips:

  • The song is easy enough to learn if you are committed! But it is also easy to just pretend you are singing along — especially if you are next to an especially loud Swede!
  • After every song it is traditional to say skål (cheers). In the US, we often look at the glasses as we clink them together, but in Sweden the custom is to look your fellow drinkers in the eye as you say skål!

Hope you learned some new Swedishness today and I’ll see you in the next post!

Sources

6 thoughts on “Sweden and Helan Går

  1. I feel Iike so many other cultures as well have these celebratory ways of drinking with friends and family. Americans just sing along to drunken karaoke 😋

    Liked by 1 person

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